AI is a problematic term at the moment. There is an awful lot of conflation between true existential/ubiquitous computing/end of the world AI on the one hand, and a nerd in a basement programming a decision tree in R on the other.
Which makes for some nice headlines. But isn’t really helpful to people who are trying to work out how to make the most (and best) of the new world of data opportunities.
So to help me, at least, I have devised something I call the LaundryCulture Continuum. It helps me to understand how comfortable you are with data and analytics.
(Because I realise that the hashtag #LaundryCulture might confuse, I’ve also coined the alternative #StrossMBanks Spectrum).
So here are the ends of the Continuum, and a great opportunity to promote two of my favourite writers.
In the beautiful, elegant and restrained corner, sits The Culture. Truly super-intelligent AI minds look on benevolently at us lesser mortals, in a post-scarcity economy. This is the corner of the AI zealots.
In the squamish corner sits The Laundry, protecting us from eldricht horrors that can be summoned by any incompetent with a maths degree and a laptop. This is the home of the AI haters.
Where do people sit? Well it’s pretty clear that Elon Musk sits towards The Culture end of the Continuum. Naming his SpaceX landing barges Just Read The Instructions and Of Course I Still Love You is a pretty big clue.
The Guardian/Observer nexus is hovering nearer The Laundry, judging by most of its recent output.
Others are more difficult… But if I’m talking to you about AI, or even humble data mining, I would like to know where you stand…